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India


No rule on foreigners appearing before House panel: Birla on FB's Zhang

No rule on foreigners appearing before House panel: Birla on FB's Zhang

By Anjali Ojha
New Delhi, June 18 (UNI) In the backdrop of a controversy surrounding Facebook whistle blower Sophie Zhang not being allowed to depose before a parliamentary panel, Speaker Om Birla told UNI there are no specific rules allowing foreign nationals to appear before House committees.
In an interview to UNI, Birla said, "If someone tweets and claims that they are not being permitted by Speaker, it is not right, they should be aware of Parliamentary procedure.
"Speaker has to decide who to allow (to depose) or not to allow.
"Unless it is a very serious issue, foreigners are not supposed to be allowed to appear in front of committees... We are bound by rules, and there is no mention in the Rules whether Speaker can give permission to a foreigner to appear before a committee.
"Some Speakers may have done so in past, but that depends on the individual Speaker, there is no rule to give permission to foreign nationals," he said.
Facebook whistleblower Zhang’s request for deposition before a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology remains pending.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor who heads the panel on IT, had tweeted on November 1, 2021 that he had sought permission from the Speaker to allow for Zhang’s deposition.
Zhang, a former employee of Facebook (META), had alleged that the tech giant did not take action against a network of fake accounts “directly tied” to a BJP MP, even though it did so for other clusters, including one linked with some Congress leaders.
Zhang was a data scientist at Facebook between 2018 to 2020.
The Parliamentary panel on IT has questioned Facebook representatives in November last year. The topic for discussion was: ‘To hear the views of the representatives of Facebook India on the subject Safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space’.
UNI AO ING

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